This week, I posted a book review of what I thought was to be a mystery novel and turned to be a serious literary novel – and a mystery. This was Throw Me to the Wolves by Patrick McGuiness, and it’s the story of a murder investigation in a small city in southern England. It’s also a story about the destructiveness of social media and traditional media in our era of the 24-hour news cycle, the daily newspaper implosion, and “fake news.”
A similar sub-story popped up on the BBC series Unforgotten, which recently finished airing season 3 on PBS. In this case, a gossip blogger unleashes an online tirade against a man who’s a suspect in a murder investigation, and someone decides to take justice into their own hands. The murderer turns out to be someone else.
While both the McGuiness book and the television show are set in Britain, they could just as easily been set in the United States. Think the Covington boys, who found their necks figuratively placed on the guillotines of both social media and traditional media back in January. CNN, the Washington Post, and NBC News are being sued for hundreds of millions of dollars as a result, and no one is saying they don’t deserve the lawsuits. More than 50 news organizations are on notice from the lawyers filing the suits.
But the media weren’t the only ones at fault. People went crazy on Twitter. People, including progressive, evangelical, and traditional Christians, went crazy on Facebook. Conservative publications like National Review and the boys’ own school and archdiocese jumped in, joining the orgy of virtue signaling, because that’s what it was – virtue signaling. And when the facts came out, everyone said, “Oops, sorry, never mind,” and quickly turned to other subjects.
One would hope that the news media learned something from this, but it’s doubtful. It’s especially painful for someone like me, who was trained and graduated in journalism, worked with and respected reporters my entire working life, and then began to watch the change in news and journalism over the last 15 years. It’s not getting better. And it matters, because tens of millions of people no longer trust the news media, and with good reason.
More Good Reads
These Men I Feel I Know, a Little, at Ox Ford – Chris Mackowski at Emerging Civil War.
How Dodge City Became The Ultimate Wild West – Robert Dykstra and Jo Ann Manfra at The Saturday Evening Post.
Easter Saturday – Joe Spring.
A Sonnet for Ascension Day – Malcolm Guite at The Imaginative Conservative.
The Monk of Northwood – Greg Doles at Chasing Light.
Poems for the Time Being: Why You Should Read C.P. Cavafy – Brian Volck at Image Journal.
Incomplete thoughts – Barbara Mackenzie at Signed…BKM.
In the Ruins of Babylon: The Poetic "Genius" of John Keats – Paul Krause at The Imaginative Conservative.
Life and Culture
The Books of College Libraries Are Turning into Wallpaper – Dan Cohen at The Atlantic.
I Found My Birth Family – and It Turns Out I'd Known Them All Along – David Magee at Newsweek.
Ecce Hortus: A Dispatch from Dumb-Ass Acres – Jason Peters at Front Porch Republic.
Christ and the Circus – Andrew Wilson at Think Theology.
Longer Than – Jennie Cesario at Dappled Thoughts.
Dawn Dreaming – Eileen Knowles at The Scenic Route.
Arkansas newspaper gambles on free iPads as the future – Hannah Grabenstein at AP News.
Writing and Literature
The Immortal Four: Tolkien and the Barrovian Society – Bradley Birzer at The Imaginative Conservative.
The world of William Maxwell – Justin Cartwright at Spectator USA.
“Nineteen Eight-Four” at 70 – John Rodden at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
Back in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Football – Poem by Glen Wilson.
Drawing: Man Reading the Bible (1882) by Vincent Van Gogh.